Arty Jessica is the NMTF’s

Young Trader for 2023

Scores of young entrepreneurs take part
in the national final at Stratford-upon-Avon

JESSICA MOULSHER has been named the NMTF’s Young Trader of the Year after her artwork of places with an emotional connection to the people who buy them won the day.

Young traders from all over England, Wales and Northern Ireland were in Stratford-upon-Avon over two days on August Bank Holiday weekend for the 11th grand final of the Young Traders Market initiative, which aims to showcase and nurture the talent and entrepreneurship of young people.

Joe Harrison, the NMTF’s CEO, said this year was the biggest ever in terms of the number of young trader events held on markets the length and breadth of the land.

There were 10 regional finals — two in North and South Wales, one in Northern Ireland and the rest in regions across England.

Some events, including several regional finals were affected by the rainy weather in August, but Joe said he felt it was character building and brought out the best in the young traders who kept calm and carried on trading.

When it came to the final, the weather was relatively kind and locals and visitors flocked to Stratford’s amazing Waterside area  to browse the impressive stalls, chat to the young entrepreneurs, hear their stories and to buy their diverse wares.

As in past events, the competition was divided into four categories — Food & Drink, Arts & Crafts, General Retail and Grocery. The judges were Coun Kate Rolfe, Mayor of Stratford; Coun Victoria Alcock, chairman of Stratford-on-Avon District Council; Andy Green, who is in charge of markets for the council; and Rich Jones, the General Manager of Bell Court shopping centre in the town.

Joe said they agonised over the decision because of the remarkable quality of the stalls and the talent and entrepreneurship on show.

In the end Jessica, who hails from Dunmow in Essex, was named Young Trader of the Year after winning the Arts & Crafts category with her business Jessica Sian Illustration.

Holly Carr-Maskell from Suffolk won the Food & Drink category with her Mill Gin business.

Shanice Palmer from Croydon, who runs KURROC Ltd specialising in scented candles, won the General Retail category.

Amy Bennett was the winner in the Grocery section for her Chunk Cookies.

Joe Harrison said: “We never cease to be impressed by the amazing young people who take part in the young trader initiative. Their creativeness and enthusiasm are brilliant. We started the Young Traders as a way of nurturing young talent because we know that we need more young blood on our markets to ensure the rich history and heritage of market traders continues long into the future.

“When we launched the first national young traders market in Manchester we could not have imagined it would become such a massive event,” he added.

Joe paid tribute to Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council and Stratford-on-Avon District Council for hosting the national final, and other local authorities and operators who had staged events.

He also thanked LSD Promotions,  the Stourbridge-based private operator that has supported the event over the years including providing the gazebos for the final.

Left to right: NMTF President-Elect Mike Riley, Stratford-upon-Avon Town Mayor Kate Rolfe, Young Trader of the Year Jessica Moulsher, NMTF National President John Dyson, and Stratford on Avon District Council Chairman Victoria Alcock

Overall winner Jessica, who hails from Dunmow in Essex, was named Young Trader of the Year after winning the Arts & Crafts category with her business Jessica Sian Illustration.
As well as the all-important trophy Jessica wins £500 cash and a mobile credit card terminal from NMTF sponsors Multipay.
Jessica, 29, said she was overwhelmed to be named overall winner. “I have always loved art and I have a vivid memory of trying to draw a building when I was in Year 4 and telling the teacher I couldn’t get the perspective right.”
In the end she cracked it and her drawing was picked for display in a local art gallery.
She ended up working as a homeware buyer but packed in the job to go travelling, only to have to return home three weeks later because of the pandemic.
That proved an opportunity to pursue her love of art, and she began taking commissions and creating artwork for people.
“I love drawing buildings and I decided that if people were going to buy art from me it had to be something that meant something to them emotionally,” Jessica said.
She began with people’s homes, their wedding venues, their towns, and because of a childhood spent following Ipswich Town with her dad, she started creating artwork of football stadia.
As well as taking commissions she now sells on markets whilst still working as a a homeware buyer.

The other category winners

General Retail — Shanice Palmer

 Shanice, 29 and from Croydon, began making scented candles during the first lockdown.
“The first candle was vanilla and because we want our products to mean something to the people who buy them each one has an affirmative message on the inside of the lid,” she said.
KURROC is now a full-time business for Shanice with an ever-expanding range of products with a distinctive look.
“We now sell online and  at markets and we have our own pop-up shop,” she said.
The range has expanded to include reed diffusers and Shanice has big plans to expand the range to include things like pyjamas and socks.

Food and Drink — Holly Carr-Maskell

Holly, 28, who lives near Newmarket and succeeded with her Mill Gin brand, says she liked gin and had always been fascinated by the gin-making process using copper stills.
She started her company, Dear Love Ltd, in 2018 and experimented making gin with infusions such as juniper and coriander.
“I started in a small way selling at farm shops and village halls, and the business has grown from there,” she said.
Holly now sells at farm shops, markets, breweries and local shops and she believes her win in the NMTF event will provide just the fillip her fledgling business needs.

Grocery — Amy Bennett

Amy, 24, who lives in Leeds where she went to university, began making New York-style plant-based chunky cookies when she was stranded at her mother’s home for four months during lockdown.
She sold at her first market in July 2021 and went full-time last year.
Amy said: “At first baking was a way to make a bit of money to get me through uni. I started with £200 to spend on ingredients and boxes, but it has gone so well I am about to sign a lease for my own bakery.”

Food & Drink highly commended

Arts & Crafts highly commended

Hannah WorthBowla Ltd

Praj Mehta • Black Cab Events

Ben Staves • Staves Art

Alice Smith • AVMS Art

Grocery highly commended

General Retail highly commended

Sin Hang Ho • The Teapot Bakery

Amy Gastman • Eat By Amy

Megan • Marley Fields Pet Boutique

Becky Gibson • Mini Stitcher